ZTE Axon 30 Ultra review


The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is the latest from the Chinese phone maker and it boasts a wide array of high-end features. Priced a few hundreds bucks cheaper than its main competition, the unlocked handset works with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile.

On paper, the Axon 30 Ultra is one of the strongest phones of the year. Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, no less than 8GB RAM, and a 64-megapixel quad-camera configuration, it has the makings of a “best of the year” type of experience.

How does it handle in real world and day-to-day usage? Is it a dark horse candidate that begs for consideration? Or does it fall short on delivery? Read on to find out our thoughts on the ZTE Axon 30 Ultra.

Design

First and foremost, this is a gorgeous phone. In fact, even after we placed it in the carrying case that comes in the box, we feel like it’s exposed and vulnerable; we’re nearly afraid to have it out.

The Axon 30 Ultra is also a large phone. At 6.7-inches, the AMOLED screen is among the bigger ones on the market. What’s more, it has a 2,400 x 1,800 pixel resolution and up to 144Hz refresh rate.

The bezels around the screen are very slim with the display curving ever so slightly around the edge. We’re generally not a fan of these types of screens because they lend to accidental swipes and/or unread swipes.

Around back we locate four cameras in the top left corner. The module is rather pronounced, emerging from the back and taking up a fair amount of real estate. This is largely due to the rest of the phone being so slim.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the aluminum Axon 30 Ultra is a treat to look over. Our review unit, which is “black” looks to be more like a gunmetal or silver and it has just the right blend of matte finish.

Software

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is powered by an Android 11-based MyOS11 which largely resembles a stock experience. There are very few extras installed here, and because it isn’t sold through a carrier, there are no bloatware or “value added” apps that come from service providers.

If you like your Android unadulterated and straightforward, you’ll like what’s on offer. However, if you like to customize your experience a bit, there are plenty of options available. The deeper you dive, the more settings you’ll find.

One such setting that appreciate is under “Features” which lets us decide how sensitive the edges are for mistouches. We’re also fond of the number of gestures and settings we can use and that they are not an “all or nothing’ approach. Oh, and the number of quick settings available from the notification bar is staggering.

As a stock Android purists, we had little trouble with the way things are presented here. It’s easy to find your way around, make adjustments, and customize the experience.

Performance

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra is a snappy phone that doesn’t stutter or lag but we never expected that. We loaded this up with as many accounts and daily usage apps that we could think of and never once saw the phone show any signs of weakness. With this much memory (8GB) paired with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor it could be a few years before we see that being an issue.

The phone is a treat to look at and hold, but it is almost too thin and slippery. Should you opt to not have a protective case on it you may find it escapes your grasp easier than your previous phones.

The in-display fingerprint sensor is quick to read and placed in a convenient spot. Unlocking the phone results in a fun on-screen animation and sound that lets you know it’s happened. On a semi-related note, you can also opt for an always-on display with various clock and notifications settings.

The screen is a lovely one that responds well to touch. Games look great at practically any refresh rate, but it’s always fun to dial things up to 144Hz. Truth be told it is tough to really see the difference from 120Hz and 144Hz but a lot of apps don’t really lean into high refresh yet. With that it in mind, you can set the refresh at 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz. Just know that the higher you go, the more of an impact it will have on your battery.

Axon 30 Ultra Camera Samples



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